Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Five favourites from Adam Kahan

We are delighted to be screening The Case of the Three Sided Dream, Adam Kahan’s award winning documentary on the multi-instrumentalist and jazz composer Rahsaan Roland Kirk, at Band on the Wall this month.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk was hampered by blindness and illness during his twenty-year career as a professional musician, but in spite of the difficulties he faced he was able to compose and perform his extraordinary music, all the while baffling audiences by playing three wind instruments simultaneously. Inspired by a dream he had, Kirk was able to modify his instruments to allow for this unique playing technique, which though remarkable, meant he wasn’t always taken seriously by his fellow musicians and the viewing public. Kirk recorded prolifically in the 1960’s and 70’s, releasing acclaimed albums with labels such as Mercury, Verve, Atlantic and Warner Brothers, and regularly altered the musicians he played with. One constant throughout the last decade of Kirk’s career was producer Joel Dorn, who produced some of Kirk’s finest albums, including The Inflated Tear, Left & Right and The Return of the 5000 lb Man, from which some of Adam Kahan’s favourite tracks are taken.

Ahead of the screening, we asked Kahan to share five of those favourite tracks, which you can check out in this playlist.

As Kahan told Esquire

“I first discovered Rahsaan Roland Kirk when I picked up a record of his at a garage sale in San Francisco in 1989. All I knew about jazz was that I wanted to know more. That day I bought three records: one by Louis Armstrong, one by Count Basie, and the Best of Rahsaan Roland Kirk. The cover of the Rahsaan album was just a head shot, there were no visual cues to let me know what I was getting myself into, no three saxophones jammed into his mouth, no flute coming out of his nose, nothing to tip me off as to the daring innovation I was about to experience. I put that record on, and from the first note I was hooked.

As I bought and listened to more of Rahsaan’s music, I read more about him—specifically, the liner notes written by legendary music producer Joel Dorn. Joel made what are unquestionably Rahsaan’s most important records. He understood Rahsaan and his music on a level beyond most anyone. The more I listened to and read about this one-of-a-kind, deeply emotive artist, the more I learned about his life and the obstacles he faced—blindness, lack of recognition, dismissal of his innovation and virtuosity as a gimmick, his political agenda, the stroke, the paralysis, dialysis, his recovery, all of it. When I moved back to New York years later, I was describing Rahsaan to a friend, and saying, “someone should make a movie about this guy.” My friend replied, “You should make a movie about this guy!” That’s when I looked up Joel Dorn and told him what I wanted to do. “Come on over,” he said. That’s how it all started.”

Watch the trailer for the film here and catch our screening on 25th August.

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Thursday | 25.08.16

Screening – The Case Of The Three Sided Dream

Band on the Wall, Manchester